EU: banks save yes, food banks help no
December 30, 2019 – During the New Year period, many cities offer festive meals to people who have spent the year in poverty and what often goes with it: loneliness. Of course, such initiatives do not offer a structural solution to poverty and sometimes tend to be charitable, but at the same time it is a gesture of real solidarity that is greatly appreciated by the “festivities” (* 1)
What happens in cities during the New Year period also happens in Europe, on a larger scale and throughout the year. There are food banks, food surpluses are collected from large kitchens and department stores and divided among soup kitchens, non-profit organizations and all kinds of poverty organizations. No structural solution, a sort of crumb distribution of what falls from the tables of the better off, fake solidarity from the private sector (which can beat its breast for its ‘social responsibility’ and meanwhile saves on waste disposal) but at the same time an opportunity to survive for an entire category of people.
In 2018, the European Food Bank Federation ( FEBA ) distributed 781 million kilograms of food via the 418 affiliated food banks, accounting for 4.3 million meals delivered each year through 45,700 charities (largely by volunteers) to 9.3 million of the poorest Europeans.
Well, the European Food Bank Federation is concerned that the EU will drastically reduce funding for FEBA food collection campaigns. FEBA chairman Jacques Vandenschrik sees the planned merger of various European funds (European Social Fund ESF, Youth Employment Initiative, the Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived FEAD, the Employment and Social Innovation Fund EaSi and the Health Action Program) into one ESF + fund, reduce the subsidy for its food banks by half in the coming budget period 2021-2027 (* 2)
The European Commission wants to implement spending cuts in the new multi-year budget to compensate for the loss of Britain’s contribution and to finance its sample subsidy for military industry (€ 13 billion). “A wrong economic policy”, says Vandenschrik, who fears that the many poor in Eastern Europe will be the first victims. Of course, the European Commission defends itself with bureaucratic babbling (the merger of different funds into one ESF + would ensure better synergies …) and calls on Member States to voluntarily raise their own social budgets.
Once again the ‘European social model’ appears to be a creation of Brussels spin doctors. If even charitable conscientious initiatives have to make way for investments in weapons, that ‘model’ is a cruel joke. (hm)
* 1) Would it not be a bit out of place to blame all kinds of volunteer initiatives for a lack of political translation if it was to be established that the Flemish public service broadcaster (VRT) with its’ Warmest Week ‘(18-25 December) a flat collection of money (‘ for the charity ‘), with a lot of hula and meter-sized checks, but without any informative contribution on poverty, social justice or an analysis of the relevant government policy? And that while information and interpretation is the real task of the VRT … * 2) The Guardian, December 29, 2019, EU accused or seeking to cut funds for poor in post-Brexit cost savings